COMPARISON OF MODERN METHODS AND THE BIBLE IN DEALING WITH DEMONS

The Bible says of itself:


• ‘The holy Scriptures … are able to make you wise for salvation … useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ [2 Timothy 3:15,16].


• ‘We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts’ [2 Peter 1:19]

 

And it says of Christ:


• That he is ‘the mystery of God … in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ [Colossians 2:2,3].

 

Many other verses could be cited to remind us of the sufficiency of the Scripture, including its testimony concerning Christ, to give us all the accurate information we need to know God and to know how God wants us to live.

As well as positive affirmations about its own sufficiency, the Bible also provides us with insight into the inadequacy and deceptiveness of information coming from other sources:


• ‘They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men’ [Matt 15:9; see Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:7]


• ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ [Col 2:8]


• ‘These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings’ [Col 2:22]


• ‘The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron’ [1 Tim 4:1,2]


• ‘For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’ [2 Tim 4:3,4]

In the light of these and other affirmations of the sufficiency of Christ and the Bible as our source of knowledge of spiritual matters, and its accuracy in all that it says, along with the inadequacy and inaccuracy of non-biblical sources, it is surprising and almost incomprehensible that Christians today seek their understanding about demons from personal anecdotes and interpretations.

 Consider the contrasts listed below:

Modern approaches and beliefs: ideas people get from sources other than the Bible, usually from personal interpretations of what has been experienced or observed.

In the Biblical record …

 

Christians can be possessed/indwelt by demons

 

There is no record of Christians being possessed/indwelt by demons; none of those freed from demons are reported to be believers prior to their deliverance.

 

There are no explanations of how Christians become vulnerable to demonic possession, nor instructions on how to deal with it when they do.

 

There are many verses affirming the nature of God, the nature of God's care for Christians, and the nature of salvation which make it very difficult to believe that Christians can be indwelt by demons.

 

If we base our knowledge in this matter solely on the Bible we would never even consider it a possibility.

 

Christians can 'give grounds' to Satan and thereby open themselves to demon possession. These grounds may be sin, possession of objects used in spirit worship, dabbling in occultish things, etc

 

There is no record of this happening or teaching that it can happen.

 

The bible says that God presents us 'holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation' [ Col  1:22] and that no one can accuse us because God has justified us [Romans 8: 31ff].

 

Not even our sin can give Satan/demons grounds for entering us.

 

When the Bible tells us to 'resist' or 'stand firm' against Satan it is against his deceits and subtleties by which he pressures us to sin or to give up on our faith. There is no suggestion that it is to prevent demonic possession.

 

Christians can harbour within them evil spirits specifically related to specific sins. For example, a spirit of lust, a spirit of murder.

 

There is nothing about this in the Bible, either in historical report or in instruction. In fact the Bible describes various sins as 'the works of the flesh' and as coming 'out of the heart.' James 1:14 states that when we sin it is because we are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desire. When Jesus and the apostles urge us to stop sinning they give us commands to obey, not instructions on how to get rid of spirits. 

 

Most of the references in which the term 'spirit of ' is used relate to positive attributes, not negative ones. Both positive and negative ones are obviously referring to the heart attitude of the person, not to indwelling spirits.

 

Deliverance ministers engage in debate/discussion [sometimes prolonged] with the demons supposedly in possession of the person.

 

There is only one report of anyone engaging in any discussion with demons, [Christ and the legion of demons] and this was very brief. Apart from that conversations consist simply of spontaneous recognition on the part of the demons and commands to be quiet and/or depart on the part of Christ or the apostle.

Deliverance ministers command the demons to identify themselves before they command them to go out of the person.

 

There is only one report of anyone doing this: Christ addressing the legion, but even here Christ did not demand that every individual demon give its name.

 

Deliverance ministers 'test the spirit' to see if it is an evil spirit or the Holy Spirit, by trying to get it to testify to the divine identity of Jesus. If the demon refuses to acknowledge Christ it is assumed to be an evil spirit.

 

Neither Jesus nor the apostles tested a demon in this manner. When people were possessed it was obvious. In fact in encounters with Jesus demons spontaneously and fearfully actually verbally acknowledged his divine identity without being asked, and Jesus told them to be quiet about it.

 

The demon in the slave girl in Acts 16 repeatedly and continuously for several days affirmed that Paul and his companions were 'servants of the Most High God who are telling you the way to be saved'. This was both an affirmation of the one true God and of the salvation purchased by Jesus Christ. Paul did not ask for this affirmation, indeed it bothered him so much that he cast the demon out just to stop its testimony.

 

People come to deliverance ministers and/or meetings wanting [1] to find out if they have a demon, and/or [2] to get deliverance from a demon they believe they have.

 

In the Bible

 

[1] It was quite obvious when people were demonized, so much so that their friends or relatives brought them to Jesus to be delivered.

 

[2] There is no record of any demon-possessed person actually wanting to know if they were possessed, or wanting to be delivered or coming to Jesus or the apostles of their own volition to be delivered. In fact, they were scared of what Jesus might do to them.

Deliverance ministers command the departing demons to go 'to the place prepared for them' or 'to the bottomless pit'. They advise against just commanding the demon to go without telling it where, for fear that it might possess someone or something else.

 

This was not done by Jesus and the apostles. The only recorded exception is in the case of the Gadarene's 'legion' who requested permission to go into the pigs, and Jesus let them.

 

On one occasion, the epileptic boy, Jesus told the demon not to go back into the boy.

 

Obviously Jesus and the apostles did not share the same concern as modern exorcists.

 

People suffering demonization frequently need prolonged and repeated sessions to gain freedom. This process sometimes extends over years, with some demons keeping quiet and hiding. The deliverance ministers have to verbally poke around to make the demons reveal themselves. Some resist and refuse to come out.

 

When Jesus and the apostles set people free from demons the result was instant and complete.

 

The only instances of failure were

 

[1] the disciples inadequate 'faith' in the case of the epileptic boy at the foot of the mountain; Jesus was able to deal with it instantly.

 

[2] the sons of Sceva in Acts 19, who tried to cast out a demon in Jesus' name, without having any real knowledge of or relationship with Jesus.

 

People are advised to repeat prayers of renunciation several times daily to protect them from demonic activity.

There is nothing about this in the Bible.

 

People are encouraged to play Christian music, leave Bibles open in the house to avoid demonic manifestations.

 

There is nothing about this in the Bible. The only similar incident involves David playing the harp to calm Saul when the evil spirit was on him. Nothing is said about what kind of music he played. Nor is Saul described as being demon-possessed, but that an evil spirit came upon him from time to time.

 

Modern deliverance ministers advise people thought to be troubled by demons to get rid of any objects associated with spirit worship or spiritistic practices. They believe that the demons can be living in these objects and using them as a base from which to trouble the people in the house.

 

There is no evidence of this concept in the Bible.

 

There is, however, an abhorrence of anything that has been associated with worshipping or honouring demons or the devil.

 

Thus:

 

[1] physical idols are abhorred because of the demons who are inadvertently worshipped when worshipping idols.

  

[2] similarly meat offered to idols has actually been offered to demons, and Christians should not participate in it.

 

[3] the tools of trade of sorcery and divination were burned by those who now wanted to honour Jesus, not because their owners were afraid of the power of the demons, but because they stood in awe of Jesus’ power.

 

Modern demonology believes that there is a hierarchy of territorial demons in charge of nations, cities and local districts, impeding the gospel and interfering in the lives of non-believers and believers. Christians are advised that by engagement in spiritual warfare they need to disempower these territorial demons to enable the reception of the gospel, reduction of crime in the city, etc.

 

Christians pray that the demons will be ‘bound’ so the gospel can make headway in a given area or town.

 

Some teachers go so far as to teach that the good angels, and even God, are limited in what they can do while these demons are in charge of their territories.

 

 

 

 

Much of this belief and its implications cannot be affirmed anywhere in the scripture. We do not read anywhere of either Jesus or the apostles first dealing with territorial demons before engaging in their ministry in a town or district, nor did they give instructions about how to deal with them.

 

Daniel 10:13 and 10:20-11:1 are used by some people to support this idea of territorial demons. Whether or not this is a valid understanding of these verses is debated.

 

If this verse does support the idea of territorial demons it is simply referring to them; it gives no information of their impact on humans and no instructions about how to deal with them. The conflict is not between these demonic powers and men, but between demonic powers and good angels. The only recorded impact on human life is a by-product – that the angel speaking with Daniel was delayed in coming to Daniel because of the conflict with the demonic prince.

 

No connection is made between the prayers of Daniel or the state of his spirituality and the conflict between the good angel and the prince of Persia . In fact the good angel had responded to Daniel’s praying at the beginning of Daniel’s time of prayer and fasting. The delay of three weeks was in no way related to Daniel [10:2,12].

 

Revelation 16:14 is thought by some to refer to a similar activity of demons at the end of the age, but unless one already believed in territorial demons one would not understand this verse this way. All it is saying that there are some ‘spirits of demons’ that ‘go out to the kings of the earth’ to move them to battle. They are not actually located in specific territories, but ‘go out to’ wherever the kings are.

  

Given that both Daniel and Revelation are highly symbolic writings it is unwise to be dogmatic about the meaning of any one statement, particularly when the supposed subject matter is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture.

 

Satan and demons are to be 'bound' by Christians.

 

Jesus is the one who 'binds' the strong man. [Matt 12:29; Mar 3:27; Luke 11:21,22]. These are the only references to 'binding' Satan. There is no reference to 'binding' demons. The other biblical references to 'binding' also refer to 'loosing', and have no reference to demons in their contexts. Rather, one speaks of church discipline [Matt 18:15-18], and one speaks of building a strong church founded on the confession that Jesus is the Son of God [Matt 16:15-19].  

 

 

In the light of the above contrasts between what is commonly believed in certain Christian circles and what the Bible actually reveals it seems incredible that any Christian can really believe the things listed in the left hand column.

 

Surely Satan has been engaged in his work of deception.  

 

The resulting fear, confusion and disempowerment among Christians, the resulting diminishing of the salvation we have in Christ, the resulting reduction of Christ's power and authority, and the resulting exaltation of Satan and demons, is all to Satan’s advantage.